My first week in Honduras: Travelling to Candelaria...
So here goes, the impossible task of summarising everything I've done in the past week here in Honduras! In order to do it I'll be posting a couple of posts covering the days, beginning with travelling to Candelaria. Are you ready? Go.
I traveled first to Houston on Thursday 18th where I spent then night, then was off to San Pedro Sula, Honduras first thing Friday morning. As I left departures, lugging 23kg of over packing on my back and dragging another 15kg, I was met by Chloe, my volunteering partner and Vegas, Honduras' Country representative for Project Trust.
Trying to describe Chloe is very difficult, especially since she's sitting right across from me and we are both recuperating from the shock of seeing the biggest spider ever in our room. What struck me most about her, and what probably makes her such a brilliant partner (but don't tell her I said that), is her determination. She has an unending well of enthusiasm for the project and the conviction to achieve her goals no matter the obstacles, of which there are many. Also, we've been together for over a week now, sharing a room, and no arguments have erupted, which is always a good indicator.
The phrase 'one of a kind' was literally created for Vegas. He is bonkers in a totally brilliant way. He is originally from the USA but learnt Spanish while working on fishing boats off the coasts of Latin America. Now, he has an electrical company on the Honduran island, Roatan, but also supports all the Project Trust volunteers in Honduras.
After chucking my bags in the back of Vegas' pick up we were off to Gracias, a town midway between San Pedro Sula and Candelaria, where we'd spend the night. Leaving the airport car park I thought it was quite excessive and environmentally terrible that every car was a huge four-wheel drive American pick up, but I soon saw why. As we bounced along the dirt track roads and climbed around the sides of mountains I conceded that maybe here a small, electric car which I'd love, would not be appropriate.
The environment is phenomenal. The first conversation we had in the car was about my first impressions and all I could say is 'green'. The country is just so green. I'd, of course, expected it given the country's tropical climate, yet I was still struck as I looked out of the cabin window as the plane broke through the lowest level of cloud. At one point in the descent I was quite worried that we were dangerously close to the ground, which I'd measured relative to the fields of bushes I saw below. But as we descend further those bushes suddenly became bushy topped palm trees. That's the kind of green that we're talking about here!
Driving around mountainsides has been one of my favourite experiences so far. As you come around one bend you have no clue what kind of breath taking view you'll see on the other side. The stretches of river valleys and blue majestic giants which peer over them are beyond anything I've seen before. Whatever I do I know no description or picture would do it justice. As we drove on for four hours and I struggled with some pretty heavy jet lag , what kept me up was the desire not to miss a thing and to drink in every moment.
Literally, as I began to nod off we arrived in Gracias, as always I have amazing timing. The stay gave me a chance to meet some of the other Project Trust Honduras volunteers, including Kirsten and Holly working in Tomala, Rosie and Anna working in Santa Cruz, Ffion and Kat working in San Francisco. But after a minutes' chat we were off with Vegas to swim in the local hot springs. The experience was very surreal. I was surrounded by forest, with huge canopies above me as I swam in a natural hot tub. Not a bad welcome to Honduras, right?
The next morning I woke at 6 am, the consequence of some nasty jet lag, and lay listening to the sounds of Gracias. The church bells were playing an elaborate tune calling people to morning mass and for a moment I could have sworn I was in Egypt hearing mosques' prayer call. It's shocking how much like Egypt this feels, from the luscious smells of tropical plants, like those you find on the Nile banks, to the rumbling sound of motorbikes passing, or the hot days and cold nights. This similarity has helped hugely in my settling in without too much homesickness. Whenever I've felt a pang of missing I've remembered the similarities to my other home and suddenly it's no longer so scary and alien.
Later on Saturday we reached Candelaria, my new home for the next seven months. That's where I'll sign off, hoping to have kept you interested and looking forward to my next post.
Thank you, as always, for all your support.